Accessibility Tools

IDEAS has prepared a Snap Shot of the National COVID-19 Disability Information Helpline it helped operate between April 2020 and January 2021. It shows the type of information and assistance people with a disability have needed as the COVID-19 crisis developed.

This report will be shared with the Disability Royal Commission to assist with their Issues Paper on Emergency Planning and Response. It can also be used to inform future policy and practice in the provision of emergency disability information.

IDEAS still operates the COVID19 Infoline, having recently experienced a surge in calls related to the Victorian restrictions. As the rules and situations change and major public health decisions are made, the need for disability specifc information continues.

IDEAS has provided an infographic version of the Snap Shot below, and a text only version only is shared here.

National COVID19 Disability Information Helpline




Text Only Version 


A SNAP SHOT from April 9 - August 7
National #COVID19 Disability Information Helpline

Who called and when

35% People with a disability         31% Family members or carer          34% Workers or services

Where did people call from

61% VIC
22.5% NSW
8.9% QLD
7.3% NT/SA/WA
0.3 % TAS

Calls - 2587 people have called or used live chat for help

Major peaks at rule changes & lockdown times.

Call Times

6 mins      Average length of call if no follow up needed

33 mins    Average length of call if follow up needed

43 mins    Average amount of follow up time

IDEAS Info Officers have spent more than 3340 hours on the phone.

What people needed info about

The order of these varied across time period

  • Isolation
  • NDIS
  • Practical Help
  • Health
  • Money

Some Themes

  • Lack of accessible testing
  • Resent being lumped into a testing hard to find class called vulnerable people
  • Usual supply sources for essentials disrupted
  • Invisibility of people with a disability in the crisis, especially if they are not NDIS participants
  • Major announcements on weekends and places not open to answer calls
  • Accessible information hard to find or people did not use the internet
  • Being unable to have questions answered by mainstream services or helplines
  • Lag time between information being announced in media and official information being published, and/or being published in accessible format and/or disability specific detail


Callers Questions

“What are the options for my son, he can’t wear a mask, can I get something else?”

"I can’t afford to get to a testing clinic, the rules say I can't go on the bus"

“I can’t leave home, can someone come to my house and test me”

“The general helpline couldn't help me and I'd waited for ages”

"My daughters service says we can't visit her in the group home"

"Is it safe to have support workers coming into our home?"

“I’m just so worried about how our family is going to cope over the next while, I can’t go back to work as my son with a disability still has to be at home and we are really struggling.”

"Can I go to my appointment?"

“My support worker won’t wear a mask, what can I do?”

How people connected

  • Phone
  • Live Chat
  • Website


IDEAS updated online info every 24 hours

Most Accessed Info

  • Groceries
  • Accessible Rules
  • Money & Centrelink
  • Masks
  • Location specific info

Info Sources

Media Monitoring

Daily news, radio, TV, media releases, newspapers and social media

IDEAS Info Officers

Research, investigating calls, using networks and contacts, IDEAS database & the team updating sources on a rolling basis

Website Monitoring

Federal Govt, State Govt's, Dept's, Agencies, Centrelink, NDIS, NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission, Local Govt, businesses, peer led disability organisations, advocacy groups and disability services.

All fact-checked before given to person calling or published.

State of Disaster in Victoria - declared on Sunday August 2nd

With a weekend service not operating, IDEAS fielded 60 calls by 9am, Monday August 3rd.

IDEAS is providing FAQ on a rolling basis, accessed more than 10,000 times in the 1st week.

An overall increase of 229% on the last 4 weeks, or an increase of 347% on the first 12 weeks of operation.

Increase of enquiries across all platforms, phone, live chat, Facebook messenger & Twitter.

IDEAS made an accessible version of Stage 4 restrictions, as a Govt option was not available at time of news - it had 15,000 views in 24 hours.



IDEAS had been operating the National COVID19 Disability Information Helpline as part of it's contract with DSS.

From April - July Med Health took weekend calls, this data does not include those calls. The helpline no longer operates on weekends.

From January 27th 2021 IDEAS is no longer taking calls for the COVID-19 Disability Helpline.

Some details in the callers questions sections have been changed slightly to maintain privacy.

See also IDEAS Submission to the Disability Royal Commission Issue Paper on Emergency Planning and Response.


Need COVID-19 Information?

See also IDEAS COVID-19 Directory

FAQ COVID-19 from people with a disability in Victoria

 IDEAS does information so you can do life